Dave Matthews Band has just released their 2015 summer tour dates. The 2014 tour was undoubtedly successful, yielding an impressive audience turnout across the board and high satisfaction from fans. There is room for improvement, however. Dave Matthews fans want the acoustic set to be revamped.
This summer, the jam band is returning to their 2014 concert layout, which consisted of two sets, one acoustic and one electric. The acoustic sets, while quiet and casual in their delivery, garnered criticism from long-time fans. Although some songs were liberated after enduring years on the shelf, from the tender “Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd” to the beloved “Pay for What You Get,” the gesture did not satisfy die-hard fans.
It seemed that there was a small pool of songs that the band members chose from to build their acoustic sets. To the band’s credit, the songs selected for the acoustic portion of the show were performed incredibly well. An uplifting horn jam was added to the ever-changing “Two Step,” whereas the cherished scat introduction to “Minarets” was revived from its long absence. “Good Good Time,” yet to be recorded in the studio, was also brought back from the dead, a welcomed resurrection.
Without a doubt, the acoustic sets contained stellar performances of new songs (see “Snow Outside” with Béla Fleck), old songs (see “Rhyme and Reason”) and cover songs (see “Sugar Man”). Despite the high quality delivery of high quality songs, those who travel to multiple shows to see Dave Matthews Band were left underwhelmed by the acoustic sets. The variety in song choice was scant compared to that of the electric. Because DMB fans are typically spoiled with a diverse assortment of songs at concerts, the acoustic sets were seen as lackluster overall.
This summer, I would like the concept of the acoustic set to get turned on its head. I am not suggesting that softer songs like “Christmas Song” and “Satellite” get cut from the list. After all, they are great tracks that can certainly benefit from an acoustic setting. Rather, I want the acoustic set to be assembled adventurously while also incorporating softer songs that are ideal in an acoustic atmosphere. Why not try out “Halloween” in an acoustic setting? Why not give “Alligator Pie” a go? How about “Dreams of Our Fathers?” (I am kidding about that last one. Keep it shelved. We don’t need to hear it).
While I am satisfied with mostly everything that the band plays live, I don’t think it’s criminal to ask for some more variety in the acoustic set. The Dave Matthews Band catalog is massive. There is a seemingly endless ocean of music that has been created by this super group. Their eight albums alone harbor songs that yearn to be toyed with. Nobody knows that they want to hear “Dive In” acoustically until they hear it performed by the entire band. Throw rockabilly “Hello Again,” into the mix. Play some “Rapunzel.” Rock out that “Big Eyed Fish.” And, yes, we’ll even tolerate “The Last Stop” (please, please, pretty please).”
I would like the band to be daring in their acoustic song selection. Anticipation is one of the best parts of a Dave Matthews Band concert, after all. If fans can guess the majority of songs that will open the show, the element of surprise is dulled. Why dissipate the air of anticipation that hangs over every Dave Matthews Band concert?
Fans that yap about the band’s negligence to play this song and that song have always puzzled me. The band will play what they want to play, and that’s that. I would rather attend a concert where the band is feeling the music than a concert where the band is playing all of their rarities to succumb to public demand. Once again, it all comes down to anticipation. What’s the fun if DMB starts playing “Spoon,” at every concert? I am not asking that the acoustic set be made a factory of rare stuff. Rather, I am recommending that the acoustic set be a harbor of creativity.
Dave Matthews Band fans ultimately want an overhaul of the acoustic set. Variety, bold choices, and the tradition of quality performances can save the acoustic ship from sinking in the eyes of hardcore fans. Summer can’t arrive soon enough.